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Economic shocks and Covid-19 pose threat to future income of learners – Nghipondoka

Economic shocks and Covid-19 pose threat to future income of learners – Nghipondoka

Staff Reporter

“The AU/UNICEF report on transforming education in Africa indicates that the disruption in learning caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – in which over 1 billion students globally stopped going to school at some point – has only exacerbated the global learning crisis. In addition, girls, children from the poorest backgrounds, children with disabilities and children on the move face significant difficulties in realizing their right to education.”

The above are the sentiments of Ester Anna Nghipondoka, the minister of education, arts and culture, at the opening of the Second National Education conference aimed at building on the key recommendations of the 2011 National Conference on Education.

The minister stated that according to the 2021 ‘State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery report’ (published jointly by UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank), if we do not take stock of our education system, this generation of students risks losing $17 trillion in lifetime earnings in present value, or about 14% of today’s global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), because of Covid-19-related school closures and economic shocks.

SECOND NATIONAL EDUCATION CONFERENCE: The Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Ester Anna Nghipondoka.

“The current reform as proposed by the Education conference of 2011 is aimed at making our education system more demand driven by answering to the developmental needs of this country, in terms of skills sets to be acquired by our learners at different age and grade levels. It is designed to ensure improved access with retention and progression. It is common knowledge that the reform was faced with disruptive challenges, i.e. the economic situation of the country, exacerbated by droughts and Covid-19, which have severely impacted its implementation. It is worth mentioning here that the 2011 conference and its recommendations happened in a different economic era. The implementation of it, since 2015, took place in a different global economic set-up, the economic recession having set in. It is thus a fact that as much as the implementation reached its intended targets in terms of grades coverage, the curriculum attainment was severely affected by myriad of factors,” Nghipondoka said.
She added that it is due to this genuine concern that the Ministry of Education Arts and Culture in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education, felt it fit to hold an education conference aiming at identifying levels of change, which will help to reimagine the education system and revitalize the momentum of the implementation of strategies towards achieving the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4).
The recommendations include the implementation of the education ministry’s Strategic Plans for 2012-17 and 2018-22 to support the fourth and fifth National Development Plans.

“This Conference is happening at a time when the global community, including Namibia, is still grappling with what is called “triple shock”– COVID-19, Climate crisis and the Ukraine war. As mentioned earlier, when such challenges befall a country, they put a test to the country’s ability to cope and resilience, in terms of ensuring continued quality and inclusive education among other services,” the minister of education said.

Nghipondoka however stated that there are some factors that are likely to determine the country’s resilience and ability to cope when challenges strike.

She added that human and material resources are required to facilitate the process of coping, continued education and the ability to recover. She also noted that amongst other things, a basic education system that provides access to Early Child Education (ECD) to all children is needed. Nghippondka shared that this would ensure a sound foundation that would enable them to cope and be resilient against educational shocks and interruptions, and be receptive and able to benefit from different learning modes when the time to sit with their teachers is disrupted.

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